Edward A. “Icky” Haut was the founder of Icky’s Cookies, a family-owned commercial cookie bakery headquartered in Olean, New York, United States from 1948 to 1967. The business began as Haut’s Cookie Shoppe, a home kitchen operation selling 4,000 cookies each week in local grocery stores. Within ten years, it grew to selling almost a quarter of a million cookies weekly (or 12 million annually) via chain grocery distributors.
Haut began his career at age 13 in a commercial bread bakery, where he worked part-time after school and on Saturdays as a laborer in the sanitary kitchen. He also unloaded and sorted inventory, swept flour dust from the floor, and whatever other odd jobs were assigned to him. When he graduated from high school, he obtained an apprenticeship, and eventually moved into a position as a baker. He remained with the company until 1947.
History of the Bakery
Following a small test market in 1947, Icky and his wife, Millie (nee: Huff), began offering hand cut sugar cookies to Olean-area grocery stores, among them, Richardson’s Grocery and Loblaws. That year, they also purchased their first stake-body delivery truck in anticipation of the bakery’s steady growth. In 1951, the business bought out Salamanca-based Tasty Bread, and converted its operations to cookies.
Ongoing growth involved several expansions. In 1953, bakery operations finally moved into a freestanding brick building at the corner of Sullivan Avenue and N. Fourteenth Streets. This facility eventually produced 15,000 dozen cookies every 24 hours.
A 5,000-square-foot facility was added at Fort Valley, Georgia in the mid-1950s to expand into that market, and a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania facility was added soon thereafter to facilitate distribution to east coast customers.
Demand for Icky’s Cookies continued to exceed operational capacity so that in 1957, a 42,000-square-foot commercial bakery was built at Sullivan Avenue and N. Fifteenth Street. Capacity immediately quadrupled, and made Olean, New York a significant player in the million-and-a-half dollar cookie industry. More than 100 people were employed at its Olean headquarters.
Product was sold in grocery stores from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania, and as far west as Illinois. Varieties included the bakery’s original soft cookies, plus fruit-filled cookies and wafers. The bakery also was an early participant in Pillsbury’s test marketing efforts of refrigerated / frozen cookie dough.
The brand was differentiated from competitors by the cookies’ soft, chewy texture, which the founder achieved by using fresh ingredients, including fresh and frozen eggs – not dry egg powder.
Owner Icky Haut was recognized as a major supporter of local sports programs in Olean, New York, and sponsored the town’s West End youth football league and adult softball and baseball teams. In 1955, he was elected president of the Olean Amateur Baseball League (ABL), following his team’s 3-0 playoff series win against league champions, The Moose. He agreed to take on an ABL leadership role if, and only if, other members worked together to bring in enough sponsorship dollars to support eight teams. In the prior two years, the League lost corporate funding and had been reduced to only six teams, and he wanted to turn that situation around.
In 1961, the Icky’s Cookies softball team swept the municipal league’s pennant and playoff. Later that year, the bakery bankrolled the $10,000 cost of stadium lighting in Marcus Park to allow evening games to be played. The lights remained on until 2017 when storm damage felled one of the poles.
The bakery also funded intercity youth football games against teams in Waverly, New York (played during half-time to the crowd at a Mansfield University home game), and against Queen of the Martyr’s Catholic Church, Dayton, Ohio. The team was organized by former Olean resident Leo French, MD, and his Queen of Martyr’s players won 14-6 to a crowd of 1,500 attendees at Marcus Park.
In 1971, the ABL honored Mr. Haut for his lifetime contributions to the good of the city, and named him Olean’s “Mr. Softball.” His wife said he considered this honor one of the high points of his entire career.
In 1977, he also received the Olean Exchange Club’s Golden Deeds Award.
Mr. Haut was a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church, where he served as an usher, deacon, Sunday School superintendent and congregational president. He later established a scholarship fund to support the education of persons seeking careers in ordained ministry or teaching in parochial schools.
Business and Political Involvement
In 1959, Mr. Haut was appointed to director of the Board of Trustees for the Olean Trust Company, which has since been taken over by KeyBank. In 1963, his name appeared on the September ballot for Eighth Ward Supervisor. He reportedly instructed friends and neighbors not to vote for him, as he had no interest in political office.
The Hauts purchased the Hill Crest Restaurant in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was managed by Sam Fenice, former owner of Tasty Bakery. In 1961, they bought WSET AM radio in Glens Falls, New York. And in 1967, they shared a financial interest with Ed Carpoletti, Roland Carpoletti and Raymond Carpoletti in a new Holiday Inn in Olean, New York.
Mr. Haut was a member of the Olean City Club, the Olean Lodge BPO Elks, and the Olean Moose Club.
Family Involvement in Icky’s Cookies
Millie and Icky worked side-by-side for the first six years of the bakery’s operation. Haut’s sister Minnie Herta and her husband Leroy Fisher joined the team in 1950 to 1951, before moving to Ocala, Florida, where they opened a storefront bakery.
Icky and Millie Haut’s daughter Mary Lou (Bingham) worked in the bakery during her summer vacations, and was promoted to bakery administrator beginning in 1959. She moved on in 1961 to manage radio station WSET (which became WBZA, 1230 AM) in Glens Falls, New York, which the Hauts owned.
Son Mark Haut worked summers in the bakery doing the same kinds of work that his father took on as a young laborer and apprentice baker. Following a stint in the Marine Corps, he moved on to a career in the computer industry.